When the HEAT signed Hassan Whiteside to a max contract at the end of the 2015-16 season, many questioned if Whiteside could be the face of a franchise. With the departure of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh’s NBA career coming to an abrupt halt, and Pat Riley’s inability to lure Kevin Durant to South Beach meant that Whiteside was now the new hope of the HEAT organization. Whiteside received criticism on many levels and several questioned his maturity to handle such a task, but time would tell. Eventually Riley was able to piece together a very unlikely roster, but time would tell if Whiteside could handle being at the helm.
The 2016 season started and it wasn’t what anyone in Miami would hope for. The HEAT started the season 11-30, and nothing seemed to be working. Whiteside was producing solid numbers but was he really the leader the HEAT organization needed? At that point was when the HEAT culture changed and instead of looking to one person for redemption, the HEAT adopted the “next man up” culture.
But was this really what they gave Whiteside a max contract for? Absolutely not. No organization pays the big contract so that they grapple to find the one player on the roster who will shine on any given night. Whiteside hasn’t shown he’s worth the money in the 2016-17 season either. In several games, Whiteside hasn’t even been a factor in the 4th quarter. Fast forward to the playoffs and Whiteside had been a complete non-factor. In game 3, his first shot attempt didn’t even come until the 4th quarter. When Spoelstra was asked how the HEAT can help Whiteside overcome his struggles, Coach took full responsibility.
However, Spo shouldn’t shoulder this one alone. You could maybe let it slide for one game, but missing in all 3 thus far is a problem. Averaging 13 minutes and 3.7 points, while collecting $20+ million a year doesn’t add up. The writing may be on the wall for Whiteside’s tenure with the HEAT organization. He still stands to be paid a little over $52 million over two more seasons, but the question remains will and how can the HEAT get rid of thus burden if that’s what they’re leaning toward, and who can fill the void of having a true center for the HEAT of indeed the plan is to part ways with Whiteside?
One thing that is 100% apparent from this playoff series is that the HEAT are in desperate need a a true superstar to lead the team. They need that ONE person they know they can count on every night to lead and energize the team, as opposed to relying on the “next man up.”